on Wednesday, 21 August 2013.
This summer has been a season of wonderful simchas. We at Temple Israel have been blessed to celebrate with a number of families - three b’nai mitzvah in May and June, our wonderful vow renewal event with three couples in June, and culminating with our three adult b’not mitzvah this August. In fact the “three simchas” pattern repeats in weddings as well - by Labour Day I will have been honoured to officiate at three summer weddings for members of our congregation and their children.
As we were marking all these happy events in the life of our community, a member pointed out an interesting challenge of the Jewish life cycle. From birth to adulthood, we have a number of life cycle events - bris and naming; consecration as children begin their religious education; b’nai mitzvah and confirmation as that education crosses milestones; and for those who find their “beshert,” a wedding. Other than the possible passing of a loved one, or the choice of an adult to convert to Judaism, Jewish adulthood is oddly bereft of life cycle moments that can give form and sanctity to the days and years of our lives.
We can argue that the life cycles of our children - sons, daughters, nieces, nephews, or grandchildren - take over as “our” adult milestones. Indeed, ushering a child from birth into adulthood is a significant experience for any parent or mentor. But this challenge to define personal moments of tradition - with accompanying public ceremony and celebration - should still inspire our ritual creativity. That’s the blessing of community - the friends who join with family to celebrate the sacred, happy moments of our lives. And although the cycle of life may pause awkwardly between weddings and funerals, the cycle of the year is rich with opportunities to mark moments of holiness. Let us join together this High Holy Day season once again. Let us celebrate the blessings of family and community. And may the year ahead of us be one of joyful memories, all the sweeter for being shared with each other.
Shanah Tovah u’Metukah,
Rabbi Dressler, Casey, Lucy, and Maya